Paddy Davitt: Furious Farke and City's quest for fairness
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Limited
Daniel Farke does not strike you as a coach who lacks for inspiration. But his Preston team talk is already done.
The Norwich City head coach merely has to stick his words, re-produced right here in full, on the walls of the Deepdale away dressing room and stand back.
You would travel many miles to find a more personable individual operating at the sharp end of his profession. Farke always strives for the soothing balm rather than the barb.
We are in the fingers of one hand territory for the moments during his City tenure when he has let frustration get the better of him in his public pronouncements. Usually around the performance of certain officials or the vagaries of the video assistant referee technology.
Bad news, Daniel. There is more of that to come next season in the Premier League.
But the tone of his comments prior to this international break, when he appealed to switch a Good Friday trip to Preston due to international commitments, was sharp and tinged with bite.
Farke cannot understand the logic for keeping the fixture unaltered, when it comes so close to the final round of internationals for any number of his key personnel. A prophesy underlined on Wednesday evening with five of his frontline players playing the full 90 minutes.
A switch would have required Preston to agree, especially when there were no complicating factors in terms of broadcast requirements. The Football League, in this matter, merely held the ring.
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Preston, as is their right, declined to shift the fixture. Leaving Farke to seethe and in all probability select a side populated by players who must travel direct to the team hotel on the eve of battle.
It might not quite be Onel Hernandez dropping in to Guatemala via a private plane, and presumably getting changed in the back of a moving vehicle, before his hasty half-time introduction for a Cuban debut. But it is just as ridiculous on the grounds of player welfare or the fairness of the competition.
And it prompted Farke to launch this impassioned plea for reason.
“We are the only league in the whole world who play on a Friday at Easter. If you ask me I am struggling to take this decision seriously. It is against all the values we should stand for in the EFL.
"We are proud we have so many internationals, proud we send players to England’s Under-21s but because they play on the Wednesday and we travel to Preston on the Thursday I think they will miss the game on the Friday. That is not helping the quality of the competition, or the fairness.
"We have 14 players away. Other teams have maybe one or two. It is against the integrity of the competition.
"We have these campaigns for mental awareness and other things but if we are made to play on the Friday then we should put all the pins and stickers in the bin because it is not fair.
"I could understand if there was television or crowds but there are none. I am struggling to respect this decision.
"If we have to find some solutions we will. We will have to see how many minutes the lads play on the Wednesday, maybe then weigh up covid tests, maybe the travel. The most important topic is the players come back safe, healthy and fit.”
The Football League may reasonably point out only Brentford’s trip to Huddersfield has been switched to the Saturday. So too the devilishly difficult equation of cramming fixtures into a season bookended by a summer finish last time around, and the upcoming re-arranged Euros this summer.
But Farke’s point on the volume of international calls is a valid one, and why this feels like a bigger handicap to the leaders than the majority. Preston’s interim chief, Frankie McAvoy, has had a fortnight to plan for City’s visit with all bar two of his international contingent.
Farke, and Norwich's fans, may have reason to be thankful they have built such a points buffer at the top. Despite their best efforts it may well be they need to cash in such an insurance policy.
Should that be the case, Farke’s diplomacy will be stretched to breaking point when he conducts his post-match media duties at Deepdale.